Tag Archives: vintage

GAME REVIEW: Teddy Boy

Teddy Boy (Front)

Teddy Boy was one of the very first games to make it on to the Sega Master System and just like Hang On came initially on one of the very short lived Sega cards. The game title came from a popular Japanese song released by a Japanese pop star called Yohko Ishino who was hitting the Japanese charts hard in 1985. The original Japanese version had the full title of Teddy Boy Blues and actually featured an 8-bit instrumental version of Ishino’s song. However because Ishino was not known outside of her home country when the game was exported all references to her were dropped including the music and the name shortened to Teddy Boy.

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The game is simple enough in its premise; you are Teddy Boy (I presume that’s his name) and you have to go around a series of some 50 mazes with a small gun shooting bugs, guppies, snails and the dice in which they hide. Shoot any of these things with your gun and the creatures turn in to small immobile versions which you have to then collect. Failure to do so will eventually see it zip down to your time bar and take a chunk out of it thus reducing your point scoring ability. If you plan on hiding and waiting for the bad guys to come to you be warned – stand still for too long and the ground starts to break away before you fall through.

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This is a simple enough game but boy is it tough. The enemies are relentless as they swarm all over you and it becomes a real button bashing affair as you try to take out all of them. It is a challenge therefore but to be honest it is not a very entertaining one. It is very repetitive and the most important factor of any challenging game, the feeling of progression, is missing. Although I personally am not good enough to see it myself I have learned off the internet that the levels go on forever. After the 50 mazes are completed the game goes back to the first and continues through it again for another 49 since the counter only goes up to 99 and stays there. This game never ends!

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It is very early Master System in it’s appearance in that while it is an improvement over Atari 2600/5200 and Sega SG-1000 games it is still quite primitive looking. The colours are very bright looking like an early Simpsons episode at time. Teddy Boy looks like the happiest little monster hunter in town even when death is near as he runs around with his machine gun and a green cap that looks like a Jewish yamaka. When he gets killed he totally emulates Alex Kidd as he becomes an angel and flies up the screen to heaven.

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I am sure in 1985 this looked good and if you were Japanese and a fan of Ishino then it would appeal to you. As a retro gamer this lacks any of the charm earlier games had like Space Invaders which lets be honest has many similar traits to Teddy Boy when we break it down except your gun platform has more freedom of movement. Unlike Hang On this was not a good launch title for the Master System because it was too simple in premise and to produce but just so tough and unexciting in any way.

Not recommended by me I am afraid.

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GAME REVIEW: Road Rash

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Remember the opening sequence to the anime Akira where the biker gangs are razzling with one another on the streets of Neo-Tokyo? Ever watched that and thought Hey that would make a great game. Well that’s how I have always thought Road Rash was conceived. Road Rash was launched in 1991 and was aimed at the growing Mega Drive market but someone at Electronic Arts knew there was still a market for the Master System and so a “dumbed down” version was produced for the older console. At it’s core Road Rash is a racing game similar to the earlier Hang On series but adds violence in to the mix with the ability to attack other riders either by throwing punches or kicks as well as using weapons such as a club.

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Despite this attack ability your primary aim is still to avoid obstacles in your path such as oncoming cars, other riders and the occasional cow! You will spend more time avoiding things rather than scrapping with other riders. The attacks are primarily there to help you get that podium finish rather than be the main focus of the game. Focusing too much on attacking others actually slows you down so it is best to chose carefully when to attack and when to just ride by. Another obstacle to your success in this world of violent illegal street racing is the law in the form of Officer O’Leary who pursues you in an effort to knock you off and arrest you.

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California is the setting for these races and as the player you can choose which order you want to do the races on each level. You have to finish at least 4th in all the races to progress to the next level. Each level is the same series of courses but with increased difficulty as the bikers get more aggressive. Gameplay wise the controls are quite sensitive but easy to master. You can hit the throttle button and more or less hold it down the entire race. The attack button selects which direction the attack is launched for you and is aimed at the nearest rider be it on the left or right. One unique feature the game has over similar racing games is that if you come off the bike you have to guide your rider back to the bike rather than you just appear back on it. This can prove a nightmare if another rider decides to run you down sending you even further back making your remount time even longer. It’s all part of the fun.

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A great aspect of this game is that each rider gets a name rather than them be just another anonymous sprite on the screen. This makes it all the more personal when someone hits you and you end up targeting that person in every race after. This adds so much depth to the game even though its a rather subtle touch.

This is a hugely fun game and while I know that Mega Drive fans will be screaming that the 16-bit version is better, for the Master System’s 8-bit this is still a brilliant title. Its fun and addictive offering enough of a challenge to keep you hooked.

 

GAME REVIEW: Bonkers

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In both my The Simpsons: Bart vs the World and Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse reviews I have made frequent mention of how in the 8-bit and 16-bit eras there was a torrent of uninspired platform games that only sold because it starred a licensed character. With Disney’s Bonkers it could have very easily followed suit but I am one for believing that credit is where credit is due as Disney Software tried something different this time.

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Bonkers was released on the Mega Drive (Genesis for you who hail from North America) in 1994 when the show was still running on TV. The plot of the game follows cartoon cop Bonkers D. Bobcat as he tries to win the “Officer of the Month” award by nabbing four of the biggest crooks in town. Each crook can be found in their own unique area of the city which has its own dangers and the player can choose who they want to go after first.

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This is not one game but is in fact four mini games. In the first game “Harry the Handbag’s” raccoon goons are stealing Toon Treasures (including Mickey Mouse’s wizard hat from Fantasia and Aladdin’s lamp) from a museum. To stop them you must throw donuts at them (I thought cops carried guns?). Then you have to face “The Rat” in the junkyard where a robot is trying to stop you. In order to catch “The Rat” you have to brick up a wall to block the robot. The third villain is “Mr Big” who can be defeated by finding all the pieces of the fall-apart rabbit from the show. The final villain is “Ma Tow Truck” who is blocking the freeway and you have to race around in your police car stopping her by throwing giant bubble gum bombs.

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OK – as I said I have to give them credit for trying something different when they could have easily made just another uninspired platformer with their trademark character but the truth is I would rather one average game than four small terrible games. This game infuriated me but it’s not the variety of the mini games that was the problem. It was the fact that in order to make the game last they designed it so you had to play four rounds of each mini game with the difficulty increasing each time. The frustration comes from the fact you don’t feel like you are achieving anything or progressing at all except that it gets more difficult.

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The junkyard and museum levels suffered from appalling hit detection with the bricks/doughnuts and I ended up throwing large numbers of them at the same spot despite repositioning Bonkers. The control of the car was terrible and it felt more like a pinball at times than a squad car as it would bounce off the sidewalk and other cars.

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On the whole this was a bad game. It feels like one of those titles thrown out there just to make a quick buck. The worst kind of game. It’s a shame because I have fond memories of the show but alas it does seem to be one of those Disney shows that had its one run and then was forgotten about.

REVIEW: The Great Outdoors

WARNING – This will contain spoilers


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The Great Outdoors is a 1988 comedy starring Dan Aykroyd and John Candy. It is about John Candy taking his family on a lakeside holiday to share the experiences he had with his dad with his own children hoping they will one day do the same with their kids. Unfortunately his brother-in-law brings his family along (uninvited) and seems determined to spoil the whole thing for him with his rich and high speed lifestyle. All is not what it seems with Dan Aykroyd’s character however.

The Great Outdoors is one of those films that when it was released was ripped apart by the critics and yet most people I speak to about it have fond memories of it with a handful of scenes that stand out above the rest. It just goes to show that what it boils down to is that critics are just people with an opinion like anyone who watches a movie. It doesn’t matter what they think; if you like a movie then that’s your prerogative and I love this movie.

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This is a light hearted romp for the most part. Until the fourth act it doesn’t really take anything seriously but of course having seen it once before you start seeing how Dan Aykroyd’s Roman, who plays being rich but is secretly broke, is struggling to make money throughout and how he is avoiding spending what little he has left. An example of this is the quick scene where Roman tells Candy’s Chet to take care of the bill at the bar while he goes to the toilet. First time through you think he is a bit of a jerk since he has all that money but the second time around you know his secret and as such you start to feel sorry for him.

This film has some great scenes in it. The scene where Chet is telling the story of the bald headed bear and then throws his drink in the fire sending a fire ball up the chimney remains comedy gold for me. We all love late night ghost stories and when someone embellishes it with a surprise shock at the end it just adds to the fun. Unfortunately everybody reacts negatively to the story and I don’t understand that. If anyone should have thought it was funny it would be Roman since it seems like the sort of thing he would do but I guess the writers wanted to keep the character conflict going throughout. Roman does build on the laugh however with his effort to reassure his daughters which leads to him telling them an even scarier story about a family murdered by escaped psychiatric patients. This story ultimately keeps them up all night.

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Another scene most people remember from this movie is Chet’s “Man vs Food” scene where he has to eat a 96oz steak for the family to eat for free. It is hilarious to watch but the jokes are all at John Candy’s expense given his size. The look on his face when he realizes he has to eat the fat as well is just timeless. Also of note is the bat scene where Chet and Roman have to try and capture a bat that has got in the cabin. This is funny for most people who see it and have had similar experiences. That more or less sums up the kind of laughs in this movie in that most of it is relatable and I bet everyone who has seen this will say or think at some point “Hahaha something similar happened to me too.”

The light heartedness of the movie is brought down a steep tone when Roman reveals the truth that he is bankrupt. I will admit that for much of the movie I disliked him to such an extent that I was glad he turned out to be broke especially since it implies he is to blame. That being said though I don’t hate Roman. There is a likeability about him and so there is some sympathy there. Roman’s character was designed to reflect the 1980s Wall Street lifestyle in all its highs and lows. This was not the only film to portray such a character even if the movie wasn’t about Wall Street. It seemed a popular theme among movie makers of the era. The climax of the film with the rescuing of the girls from the mine and the reappearance of the bald headed bear is just hilarious and it’s thanks largely to John Candy’s performance.

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So, I have talked about what I liked about the movie. Now in the interests of fairness I should highlight what I think is wrong with it. The story of Buck and Cammy’s love interest has never endeared me. I think the writers were trying to appeal to a broad audience hoping teenagers would go on dates to watch this on the premise it had romantic comedy elements in it. It didn’t work and was boring with the real laughs being with the two families.

Here’s the biggest criticism I have with it though. This is portrayed as a family movie yet there is swearing and sexual references in it. It doesn’t know if it wants to be a family movie or one for grown up couples (or teenaged couples for that matter) and so it seems a bit disjointed in terms of genre. I first saw this on TV years ago and a lot of the stronger stuff was edited out. I actually think that was the best version because it was a film everyone could watch. Having it on DVD recently I saw the unedited version and honestly I was surprised by how much the S- and B- words were in it. I am no prude or nothing and use bad language but I don’t want my daughter to hear it.

That being said this still ranks as being a movie I have fond memories of. Sure it isn’t the funniest movie of the 80s or even either John Candy or Dan Aykroyd’s best movies but it is a film I relate to and still thoroughly enjoy to this day.

Thanks for reading…